‘Ring of steel’ around Pope after three bullets sent to him in ominous envelope

Vatican security is on high alert after an envelope containing three bullets addressed to the Pope was intercepted by mail staff.

Police are investigating the death threat, which was sent from France.

The handwritten address on the front of the envelope read: “The Pope, Vatican City, St Peter’s Square, Rome.”

A ring of steel will now be thrown around the Pontiff, 84, when he departs from Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport on Thursday for a trip to Budapest.

Police said the suspicious package was spotted by workers at a sorting office in Milan and contained a note “alluding to

financial operations at the Vatican”.

In a statement to the Daily Star, Italy's Carabinieri police authorities confirmed the package had been intercepted.

They wrote: "We can confirm that during the night, in a sorting office in Peschiera Borromeo, Milan, the Carabinieri seized an envelope, with French postage, containing three bullets and addressed to the Pope — 'Il Papa – Città del Vaticano, Piazza S. Pietro in Roma.'

"The investigation is ongoing."

It comes just days after the start of a trial that has seen 10 people – including a senior cardinal – indicted over allegations of mishandling Vatican funds.

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The multi-million-pound case is centred around the purchase of a luxury property in Chelsea. Vatican prosecutors allege 10 defendants, including London financiers and church staff, committed crimes including embezzlement, fraud and corruption.

Court papers indicate that Pope Francis gave his personal approval for the trial against senior figures to begin.

He led prayer as normal on Sunday in Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

Francis is not the first pope to be at the receiving end of death threats by crazed opponents.

Pope John Paul II was shot four times during a 1981 assassination attempt by Ali Ağca, a Turkish hitman who told interrogators he was following orders from the KGB.

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